No one ever begins a relationship with the goal of making things messy. We all have the highest of hopes for love and affection, as well as long-term relationship success. And yet, there we are traipsing on in with all sorts of toxic habits that make the relationship difficult — not to mention unhealthy and unstable.
When that happens, it can unfortunately mean the beginning of the end. "Toxic habits ... erode and ruin the foundation of a relationship," says Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, in an email to Bustle. Without that, there isn't much hope for a healthy or successful relationship.
It's quite the bummer, but changing things up can help. One of the best places to start is by recognizing a healthy relationship. As Martinez says, "In healthy relationships we give people trust until they have broken it. We address feelings of jealousy, where they are rooted in, and what we can each do to change them. [And] we can be honest about all things, as when we are caught in the little lies, people are less likely to trust us about the big issues."
Being able to pinpoint your bad habits can help as well. Once you do, you can fix them before they get out of hand. Read on for some of these very things you (and your partner) do that ruin the strength and stability of your relationship.
1. Not Trusting Your Partner
I'm gonna go ahead and put trust right at the top of the list because, without it, you're pretty much guaranteed to have an unstable relationship. Whether it's thinking your partner will leave at any moment, or cheat at any second, it's no way to live — for either of you. "While a person may be supportive and understanding for a given amount of time, they can only go on like this so long," Martinez says. So do yourselves a favor and make trust a priority, before it spells disaster for your relationship.
2. Having The Same Argument Over And Over (And Over) Again
Many couples have their go-to disagreements. But if these turn into full-blown arguments, it could be a sign of an underling issue. "Often an argument about ‘X’ is really about ‘Y,’ where ‘Y’ is something deeper-seated, such as a partner’s feelings of insecurity and need for constant reassurance,” psychology professor Susan Whitbourne told Ashley Papa on StyleCaster.com. When that's the case, it's clear you two need to quit bickering and work things out, ASAP.
3. Holding Onto A Grudge For-ev-er
If your partner said something painful, it can echo in your brain for all eternity and make "getting over it" incredibly difficult. And yet, you have to try for the sake of your relationship. "People make mistakes, and holding on to grudges may not only hurt a relationship — it could also cause unwanted stress and anxiety," said lifestyle writer Laura Schwecherl on Greatist.com. Definitely not worth it.
4. Giving Into Jealousy
In the same way a lack of trust undermines your relationship, so does a healthy dose of jealousy, Martinez tells me. Maybe you stay up late worrying about why your partner still talks to their ex, or wondering why they have such a great career. While understandable, these worries and comparisons don't exactly make for a healthy existence. Chatting with your SO can help, as can making the choice to banish these thoughts once and for all.
5. Taking Your SO For Granted
Your lovely partner brews coffee every morn, is a comfy shoulder to cry on, and knows exactly how to brighten up your day. In short, they are great. But if you stop appreciating them, it can really throw the relationship through a loop — and even leave them feeling resentful. So, find a way to express your gratitude every day, according to Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D., on Psychology Today, and see if this new habit doesn't help improve your relationship.
6. Thinking They Should Initiate Sex
If you're in the habit of lying around and mentally willing your SO to come hither, then get ready for some major disappointment in life. "Holding on to the idea that you need to be approached first by your partner for sex — or any other form of affection — will leave you waiting and unsatisfied," Papa said. And, it will put them in the uncomfy position of always having to be the initiator. Not fair at all.
7. Giving Them The Cold Shoulder
The whole silent treatment thing may feel like a good way to get your point across, but it really only ever ends up being a childish (and unhelpful) game. "This lack of communication ... does not allow for any forward movement," said Jants. "Instead, it creates unhealthy stagnation, which can breed misunderstanding and resentment — on top of the initial issue at hand." If this is your go-to reaction, switch things up next time and actually talk to your partner.
8. Spending Way Too Much Time On Your Phone
Of all the toxic habits listed here, looking at your phone probably seems the most benign. And yet, having a tighter relationship with your technology than you do with your SO is clearly not a good thing. "It’s important to focus on the present when you’re with your partner," Papa said. So put down your phone, and close your laptop. Your relationship will be way healthier as a result.
9. Refusing To Truly Listen
Are you guys arguing all the damn time? If so, it could be that one (or both) of you sucks at listening. "A lot of [the] inability to see from your partner’s point of view stems from a failure to listen," said lifestyle editor Candace Jalili on EliteDaily.com. Which is why you need to actually hear what your partner says, and not just wait for your turn to talk.
10. Never Giving Into A Fight
It may seem kinda sweet that you two never, ever fight. But it's actually not that healthy of a habit to get into. "Disagreements are bound to happen, and arguments can be a healthy part of a relationship," said Schwercherl. "Never having conflict may make compromise impossible." So say your piece and have at it (respectfully, of course).
11. Nitpicking Every Little Thing
Of all the bad habits, nitpicking is probably one of the most bothersome. Not only is it annoying, but it can also cause other problems in your relationship. "When you nitpick each other in your minds and out loud, soon you only see your partner's faults," noted relationship expert Jeff Forte on Brides. "After awhile, complaining and criticizing become a comfortable habit which compromises your willingness to communicate and interact in a compassionate, supportive way." Which is why, in many ways, these irksome little comments are better left unsaid.
12. Being Stubborn AF
Some people pride themselves on being headstrong. And in many ways, it is a good quality to have. But when it comes to relationships, stubbornness only ever gets in the way, according to Jalili. Part of being in a relationship is giving into compromise, and admitting that you're wrong. If you're unwilling to do that, you're going to be met with unending problems.
13. Focusing Your Attention Outside The Relationship
Yes, you should have a life outside your relationship. Have hobbies, have friends, go on solo dates all by your lonesome. But don't get in the habit of turning your attention 100 percent elsewhere. This means don't get caught up with another person, or zero in on your work, or focus solely the stresses of your day. Doing so can make it easy to give up on your partner, according to Forte. And that is obviously not a good thing.
Don't give up. And while you're at it, don't let your other bad habits bring toxicity and problems into your relationship. Fixing them now, before they get out of hand, will mean more stability for you and your SO.
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